Return to God

Question from a Site Viewer
I was reading your response to a person that felt rejected by God because he left God for three years and deliberately sinned against Him during that time. But look who’s talking! I’ve done the same thing as well.

I left God longer than that and I can relate to the feeling of not feeling the same love of my loving Father. I did return to God. I was happy but I was so different. I was full of sin and needed deliverance from so many issues . . . but the church (people) seemed to reject me. It was so hard to keep going to that church.

God is sending me so many warnings and my light is growing dim and I really feel like God is not going to accept me back. I almost feel as if I can’t return to God. When I came back to Christ a demonic spirit entered my life. Before I came back I used to do drugs (marijuana) and drink. But the neighbor downstairs was playing with a Ouija Board and it opened the gates of hell. I felt a presence in that apartment–especially when I went to the kitchen. I felt the evil was coming from the basement. Before I knew about what was going on below me I used to ask a neighbor friend about my apartment and why I felt uncomfortable there. She told me that while I was out of town she was hearing footsteps going up and down stairs. There were eerie feelings there. As long as I had people living with me I was fine. But then I encountered the spirit.

The spirit was attached to me all the time until I left the apartment. Then things got better. I kept going to church and doing self-deliverance. This all was going on after I returned back to my Lord Jesus.

Now I read His Word and study Scripture, maybe not as often as I should but I do. But I struggle with why I’m so alone. This is why I fall away from Christ because I’ve been alone so long that it takes a toll on me. I want to have people to contact at times. But I am completely isolated. I even tried to make friends at the church I left but I had no results. I tried to make friends elsewhere but people were more interested in my business than in knowing me. So then I asked God to send me a husband. But He has greeted that request with silence. Why? I want to know why I can’t have a husband or friends when it says in His Word, “It is not good for man to be alone.” So I socialize on Facebook or am involved in sexually inappropriate relationships to keep company (it is not usually good company).

What am I missing? What prevents my genuine return to God? And where is His acceptance?

Sincerely, Lost Christian

Tim’s Answer
Thank you for your question. Often when we return to God, we return with a great deal of baggage. Our minds are not instantly transformed at the moment we make a decision to return to God. What does change is our direction. Instead of feeding our minds on thoughts that lead to death, we begin the process of transforming our minds with the purity of God (Romans 12:1-2). But that transformation is a process.

Because our minds are not instantly transformed, we continue to reap a great deal of what we have sown. Thus, those who have been involved in sexual sins will find it difficult to think pure thoughts. Those who have taken drugs will find it difficult to avoid longing for the euphoria the drugs brought. Those who have experienced the oppression of the enemy may find the same feelings returning. These thoughts flow from what we have put in our brain, and they can continue to oppress us.

However, our past does not have to be our future. No matter how much we have messed up our lives, God is in the business of redeeming lives and transferring us from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of Jesus Christ. Each day, as we take up the fight seeking and relying on the power of the Holy Spirit in us, we strengthen our ability to win the thought battles. See our article on overcoming sin for some help in winning the thought battles of the mind.

When you are lonely, take up your Bible and read the Psalms. You might start with Psalm 42. Often, God’s people do not have many friends on this earth. Living for Christ can be a lonely life. Loneliness is real. But the antidote to loneliness is not company. Many people who have lots of friends and company are still very lonely. Friends and company often are like the activities of life, serving only to mask life’s loneliness. If we stay busy, we tend not to focus on our loneliness. Thus any activity, whether it is the conversation of friends, or the work in the office, can take our minds off of our loneliness. But such matters do not solve our loneliness. The true antidote to loneliness is a vibrant relationship with the living God. He is the one who can meet the emptiness in our lives.

I encourage you to look to Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). Set aside some time to re-establish your relationship with Christ (1 John 1:1-3). Relationships take time and conversation. Having been away for awhile, it may be helpful to set aside the next year or two to focus exclusively on getting to know Jesus, deepening your love for Him, re-establishing a vital prayer life with Him, re-orienting your thoughts so that they think about Him and His kingdom and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). This is what will matter eternally. If you take the time to renew your mind by memorizing Scripture, meditating on Scripture, seeking God in Scripture, blessing the God of Scripture, practicing thanksgiving and gratefulness for His forgiveness, praying for others, and helping others where you have ability, you will find that the the next year or two will become one of the most meaningful periods of your life.

You indicate that you feel that death is near you. I live with cancer and know somewhat of what you speak. But I will share with you what has helped me. I have found it is important to live every day with the long view in mind. Each day is precious. Each day is an opportunity to lay up treasure in heaven, as Jesus describes in Matthew 6. Every day we can choose to wake up with prayer on our lips to our God for His will to be done in and through us. Every day we can choose to prepare ourselves for the spiritual battle, asking God for the grace of His Holy Spirit to assist us in our points of need, and understanding that there will be temptations that we must be prepared to face and over which we must triumph. Every day, we want to spend time throughout the day thanking God for His blessings, both spiritual and physical. We want to walk with God throughout the day. And at the end of the day, when we lay down to sleep, we want God to be the last thoughts of our mind. By living this way, we not only are turning our hearts toward heaven, but we also are preparing ourselves to be useful to God as His ambassadors on this earth. So, if God prolongs our lives, it is because we have a service to do in carrying out the will and work of our dear Savior.

There will be times when you will take your eyes off of Christ and see others who seem to have things so much better than you do. You will ask “why?” And you will begin to feel sad about your life, which will start a downward spiral in your thoughts. Do not go there! Those who compare themselves with others are not wise (2 Corinthians 10:12). God has allotted to each of us a task to do, a road to walk, and a life to live. We are all unique before God. What God has given to others, do not envy. Rather, rejoice with them and thank God for giving them the blessings. Learn the grace of wanting for others what you may never receive for yourself. God knows, God observes, and God is the rewarder in the life to come of those who seek the interests of others over their own interests. Remember that Jesus Himself did not have a family, close friends, or a pleasant life. But He sacrificed His life for us because of the joy that was to come (Hebrews 12:2). He teaches us to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him (Luke 9:23). The Christian life has often not been an easy life for God’s saints. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor who died at the hands of the Nazis, wrote: “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”

The famous poem sometimes wrongly attributed to St. Francis of Assisi sums up the Christian life in part as follows:

for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

When we come to Christ, we give up our lives, turn them over to Him, and accept the life that He in turn gives to us. Although almost never will our lives be what we dreamed or planned, if we persevere in the faith we will be able to look back and marvel with Jacob about the Angel that led us all of the way. This is the life of faith. We cannot see where we are going in the immediate, but we see Him, long for Him, and trust Him fully with our lives. The Apostle Paul stated it well in 2 Timothy 1:12 where he states that he knew the One in whom He has believed and was persuaded that God was able to keep what Paul had committed to God (which I think Paul had in mind his very life).

I encourage you always to return to Christ. Seek to follow Him. Continue to try to find other Christians with whom you can be in fellowship, believers who will encourage you to walk with the One to whom you have returned. But even if you cannot find any around you, do not let this be a reason to turn from God. We all have lived long enough for the pleasures of this world. Now is the time that we live life to please our Savior.

May the Holy Spirit open your eyes to see the immense love of the Father for you; may Christ establish your heart in the faith and fill you with joy in knowing the Friend that is closer than a brother. May the nightmares of the past be over, forgotten, and the peace of life with the King be yours in rich measure.

a fellow sojourner,

tim

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